#TheSHIFT Towards A More Women Inclusive Digital World
Last week, SHEROES hosted a unique event - #TheSHIFT - to start a very important conversation around women’s narratives in the digital space. Simply put, the question SHEROES as a community is trying to answer is this - how are women leveraging digital platforms to grow and make their lives simpler, richer, more exciting? Are brands and popular culture projecting women in progressive, body-positive ways? Are new products and services really catering to your unique needs as a woman? To shed some light on these aspects, we got together some of the best minds from the marketing, advertising and branding worlds, to bring in their insights.
Avani Parekh, our very own energy bunny, kicked off the evening with a heartwarming story of how our community member, beautician and single mother Sathiya Sundari, got onto the SHEROES platform and began aggressively chasing a dream of starting her own beauty parlour, in a small village in Tamil Nadu. Sathiya’s story is, in fact, a testimony to something one of our panelists said.
Avani Parekh, our energy bunny!
“Women’s Internet is helping women earn, learn new skills, provide support through communities and is enabling women to evolve to be better versions of themselves,” observed Kanika Mittal, Director, Brand Marketing and Communications, Reebok India, who was behind Reebok India’s #FitToFight campaign, which has Kangana Ranaut landing a few punches at the society’s gender gap issue. “No brand can afford to ignore this shift,” she said. Wouldn't you agree?
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Our panelist Sanjay Tripathy, a champion for progressive narratives around women and a former Senior Executive VP with HDFC Life leader, reminded us of an ad which came out in 2005, showing a young woman looking to travel abroad for higher studies. This storyline was a departure from the ads which always showed boys and men reaching for their dreams. However, Sanjay who went on to co-found Agilio, a digital transformation business, believes that we as a nation must work harder to create access for women to digital. “In rural areas, the cost of mobile phones and data must come down. Google India did a great job with Internet Saathi programme,” he weighed in. The beauty of this programme is that it puts women at the forefront of digital transformation, because as Internet Saathis, they get trained first in digital skills, putting them in a position to train others. Isn’t that amazing?
Don’t miss: These brands are breaking stereotypes!
Our third panelist Sujatha V Kumar, Director - Category Marketing & Corporate Brand, The Coca-Cola Company, is not only a marketing maverick but also a champion for diversity and inclusion. She walked us through a life-altering initiative by Coca-Cola India, aimed at specifically supporting women in rural areas with no electricity, to become financially independent and leaders of their communities. These women manage solar coolers, which run on the sun, literally. No electricity, no ice needed. What’s even more interesting is that they come with mobile charging ports and lights that shine on into the night, allowing their children to study after dark. According to Sujatha, it’s important for brands to make products that really improve the lives of women consumers.
And we completely agree. "Except for a few parenting apps, there's a very poor repository of apps for women. This definitely needs to change, which is why SHEROES is attempting to redefine women’s category through its high empathy, trust and growth products for women,” said Sairee Chahal, Founder-CEO of SHEROES, who moderated the panel discussion.
Sairee Chahal, Founder-CEO of SHEROES
Traditionally, women’s products have always comprised ‘pink’ content and personal care, fashion and lifestyle products, or home care products. But what about products and businesses that focus on making women happier, more empowered, safe and secure in themselves? Our fourth panelist Nikhil Rastogi, Marketing & Digital Acquisitions with Citibank made a very interesting point, which resonates no just with the financial sector, but across the board, "Increasingly, you see wealth management is influenced by women. But how do you bring it to the boardroom and turn it inside out? As we design for the future, we bring more and more of the women's narrative into the picture."
The way forward, no doubt, is for brands to stop playing on women’s emotions and insecurities, and take responsibility for the impact of these narratives.
In the last few years, brands like Joyalukkas, Joy Cosmetics, Mia By Tanishq, KLAY Schools and Indigo Airlines have moved forward, making their campaigns more inclusive, accessible and body-positive, and it’s time others followed, too! Ladies, wouldn’t you agree?